No official announcement on Bharat Bandh yet, DGP issued alert based on intelligence report

Thiruvananthapuram: Amid the protests against the Agnipath recruitment scheme and call for Bharat Bandh, the Kerala police chief here on Sunday has alerted the force to beef up measures to avert violence. But it is learnt that no Bharat bandh is officially announced even in North India. The sources close to the police department confirmed that the DGP issued directions to the police personnel based on intelligence reports which hinted at chances of violence in the state.

On Sunday, several social media posts circulated that some organisations have called for a Bharat bandh on Monday to protest against the centre’s Agnipath scheme. As the social media posts circulated widely, the DGP alerted the police force to stay vigilant and take strict action against those who attack people, destroy public properties and forcefully close shops or other establishments.

The DGP directed district police chiefs to ensure protection to courts, KSEB offices, KSRTC, private buses as well as government offices and institutions on June 20, it said.

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Besides that, police would also be putting up pickets and patrolling important locations from tonight, the release said.

It further said Kant directed the district police chiefs to coordinate the security arrangements through the Range DIGs and Regional IGs and that the Law Department has ordered strict action against those resorting to violence.

Initially, under the 'Agnipath' scheme, youths aged between 17-and-a-half and 21 were to be recruited in the Army, Navy and the Air Force, largely on a four-year short-term contractual basis.

Subsequently, the Centre raised the upper age limit for recruitment under the scheme to 23 years for 2022 as protests against it intensified.

Thereafter, the Central government also announced several incentives including reserving 10 per cent vacancies in its paramilitary and the Defence Ministry for Agnipath retirees and said it would look into any grievance about the new military recruitment scheme "with an open mind'.

Those recruited under the scheme would be known as 'Agniveers'.

After the completion of the four-year tenure, 25 per cent of the recruits from each batch would be offered regular service.

The announcement of the new scheme came in the backdrop of recruitment into the military remaining stalled for over two years.

The Army recruits 50,000 to 60,000 soldiers annually. However, the recruitment could not take place for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(with inputs from PTI)

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